Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS) denying Debra Lee Anderson’s application for survivor spouse benefits under Deborah Cady’s retirement plan with the SDRS, holding that Anderson was not entitled to receive survivor benefits. Anderson and Cady both worked for the Rapid City Police Department. In 2012, Cady retired from the department. In 2015, Anderson and Cady married. In 2017, Cady died. Anderson applied for survivor spouse benefits, but the SDRS denied the application because Anderson and Cady were not married at the time of Cady’s retirement and because Anderson did not meet the definition of a “spouse” under S.D. Codified Laws 3-12-47(80). The South Dakota Officer of Hearing Examiners and circuit court both affirmed the SDRS. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the relevant statutes, Anderson could not meet the definition of “spouse” and therefore was not entitled to Cady’s survivor benefits under South Dakota law; and (2) there was no discrimination on the basis of Anderson’s gender or sexual orientation. View "Anderson v. South Dakota Retirement System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing this divorce action between Charlotte Anderson and Arthur Anderson, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Arthur’s death deprived it of jurisdiction to act. After Charlotte brought this action, the parties informed the court that all issues associated with the divorce had been stipulated to. As relevant to this appeal, the parties agreed that the judgment and decree of divorce would be entered nunc pro tunc to March 1, 2018 and apply retroactively to December 31, 2017. The stipulation was read into the record, and the court orally bound the parties to the stipulation, but before the decree was entered, Arthur died. The circuit court dismissed the divorce action, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to enter a decree of divorce because Arthur’s death had dissolved the marriage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Arthur’s death abated the jurisdiction of the circuit court to enter a nunc pro tunc decree. View "Andersen v. Andersen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court in this appeal from a judgment and decree of divorce, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees, calculating child support, and dividing property. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to Wife; (2) did not err in calculating child support and awarding adoption subsidies to Wife; (3) did not abuse its discretion dividing the credit card debts of the parties and requiring Husband to pay a cash property settlement; and (4) did not abuse its discretion in requiring Husband to pay any judgments against him not covered by the sale of the marital home within one year from the date of the judgment and decree of divorce. View "Green v. Green" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting Mother's brother and sister-in-law’s petition for guardianship of Father’s child, holding that that, considering all the evidence in the record, the circuit court did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in granting the guardianship to the child’s maternal aunt and uncle. The child’s mother in this case was killed by Father was the child was in the custody and care of the mother’s brother and sister-in-law. The maternal aunt and uncle petitioned for guardianship of the child, and Father opposed the petition, requesting that his sister by appointed the child’s guardian. The circuit court overruled Father’s objection and granted the petition for guardianship. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting the maternal aunt and uncle’s petition for guardianship. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of I.L.J.E." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the dispositional order terminating Father’s parental rights of his four-year-old son (Child) in this Indian Child Welfare Act case, holding that there was no trial court error in terminating Father’s parental rights. In terminating Father’s parental rights, the trial court found that Father failed to act as a caregiver to Child and that his and Mother’s continued custody of Child would likely resolution in serious emotional or physical damage to them. In addition, the court concluded that active efforts were made to prevent the breakup of the family but were unsuccessful and that termination of all parental rights was the least restrictive alternative in the children’s best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Father's argument that the South Dakota Department of Social Services failed to make active efforts to prevent the breakup of his Indian family was without merit; and (2) therefore, the trial court properly terminated Father’s parental rights. View "In re Interest of M.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal from a protection order entered in magistrate court, holding that this Court did not have appellate jurisdiction to consider this direct appeal. Defendant did not appeal the magistrate court’s decision to the circuit court and, rather, appealed the order to the Supreme Court. On appeal, Defendant argued that the magistrate court clearly erred and abused its discretion in granting the protection order. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Defendant had a right to appeal the magistrate court’s order to the circuit court but had no statutory authority to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. View "Wegner v. Siemers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the circuit court ordering Appellant to pay attorney fees incurred by his former spouse, Appellee, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in ordering that Appellant pay expert witness fees related to Appellee’s motion for change of custody. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not clearly err in finding Appellant in contempt; (2) did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney fees incurred in the contempt action; (3) did not abuse its discretion in awarding Appellee’s attorney fees; but (4) abused its discretion in ordering that Appellant pay expert witness fees related to Appellee’s motion for change of custody. View "Hiller v. Hiller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order against Defendant for stalking and remanded the case to permit the court to identify which of Defendant’s acts or conduct constituted stalking. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order on the grounds that some of Defendant’s actions and social media posts concerning Plaintiff amounted to stalking. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court’s order was not supported by proper findings. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court’s findings did not clearly identify how the evidence met the statutory elements of stalking, and therefore, the case must be remanded for proper findings. View "Thompson v. Bear Runner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part a dispositional order in a child abuse and neglect proceeding that awarded Mother custody of the parties’ child, with supervised visitation rights for Father. On appeal, Father argued that the circuit court erred in adjudicating him on the abuse and neglect petition and challenged the circuit court’s decision to place custody of the parties’ child with Mother and the denial of his motion to change custody. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed as to all issues raised by Father, except for one issue, holding that the circuit court erred in granting Mother custody and dismissing the case. The Court remanded that part of the dispositional order awarding Mother custody of the child with instructions for the circuit court to consider whether it should be modified to include provisions for protective supervision of the child by the South Dakota Department of Social Services under S.D. Codified Laws 26-8A-22 and/or for a protection order under S.D. Codified Laws 26-7A-107. View "In re M.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court in these divorce proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the circuit court (1) accepted Wife’s valuation of the parties’ residence, which differed from Husband’s valuation; (2) included Wife’s student loans, which were incurred before the parties were married, in the marital corpus; (3) ordered Wife to make a cash-equalization payment to Husband over time with an interest rate of four percent; (4) awarded Husband alimony on the condition that he annually release his medical and counseling records to Wife; and (5) denied Husband’s request for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) coupling the alimony award to the execution of a full waiver of Husband’s physician- and psychotherapist-patient privileges was an abuse of discretion; and (2) this case must be remanded for the circuit court to enter findings of fact and conclusion of law on Husband’s request for attorney fees. The Court otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "Osboda v. Kelley-Osboda" on Justia Law